On Tapping Out

I met online with an amazing book agent last week. She is top of her game and pulls no punches. We talked for half an hour and whilst she is not representing my book, she had some brilliant advice for me. In her follow up email she said this "nobody wants to go through the work only to tap out at having sold 100 copies."

In the Cambridge English dictionary, the phrase 'to tap out' means "in mixed martial arts and similar sports, to tap the floor to show that you accept that your competitor has beaten you". It is a sign to your opponent that you no longer want the fight to continue, you know you are beaten. It is a small simple gesture that says, "I'm done, that's enough".

Both my children practice Judo each week and my husband has recently started Brazilian Ju Jitsu and so I've seen many occasions when they've tapped out or have been tapped themselves. There are many reasons to ask your opponent to stop - to stay safe, to release the grip or hold (which could be choking you) or because you know you're beaten. Whilst it may signal defeat, it can sometimes be the right thing to do. There are other times when you tap out because you're scared, overwhelmed, or exhausted. Again, given the individual circumstances, calling it quits is absolutely the right thing to do. There is wisdom and courage in knowing your limitations, accepting them, and bowing out gracefully.

But when I read the agents email about 'tapping out at 100 books' - meaning the book may not be good enough and would fizzle out after the sales of only a few copies - I decided there and then that my book will not be tapping out. You see, tapping out can also be a sign that you're not ready, not prepared or practiced enough.


You practice a martial art, it is a study of movement, strategy, and flexibility. You are taught to train both your body for the physical demands and your mind for the resilience and strength it takes to step onto the mat.

It takes incredible courage to place yourself in the arena, to stand opposite your opponent and look them in the eye, to have the will to win and the tenacity to fight to the end. It requires stamina, guts, and determination. It asks your body to be fit, capable and ready. These attributes can be trained into the physical body through repetition and practice, but the mindset behind these qualities can only come through time spent sparring or during randori (freestyle practice with a partner).


So, I plan for my book to not tap out. There may be an area in your life where you feel similarly passionate and determined. But what does this really mean? Well, for me, it means doing the work and knowing my opponent. The work is the research, writing, refining, and marketing of my book. My opponent is fear, doubt, the inner critic, and imposter syndrome. How do I prepare my book for this? I put in the hours in the training room - crafting, writing, repeating, going over and over until it is publication ready. Secondly, I put myself and my book out there - sharing stories, excerpts from the chapters, talking to people and stepping into the reality that I am a writer. It is to go all in. To leave everything on the mat and know that I gave it my all.


Think about an area of your life where it would be easy to give up or give in. Do you know your limitations – is it better to step out for a time and gather your thoughts? Are there ways you can prepare yourself and practice to become more resilient and determined? Do you need to reach out for help from a friend, an expert, a coach if you will? Or is there something you need to see through to completion? I'd love to know in the comments below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter We all have the ability to show up in our lives. I also believe we all have an inner strength to step onto the mat. Sometimes we may need to train more and take some knocks to know that when we fall down, we can get back up again. I want to encourage you this week and leave you with the words of Shakira:


“Look how far you've come You filled your heart with love Baby, you've done enough Take a deep breath

Don't beat yourself up No need to run so fast Sometimes we come last, but we did our best”.


And say to yourself:

“I won't give up No, I won't give in till I reach the end And then I'll start again No, I won't leave I want to try everything I want to try even though I could fail”.



Image via Unsplash

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